What happens when teen parents fight over custody? It's hard to imagine such a scenario, but teen pregnancies often have this result. When teens have kids, they will face a mountain of difficulties. They're not financially or emotionally prepared to raise a child of their own, and that's generally when grandparents feel the need to step in.
Too many grandparents mistakenly assume they can dictate how their grandchild is raised when the parents are underage. The fact is, the amount of control a grandparent has over the parents' arguments and decisions regarding the baby is limited. Without formal custody orders from NJ courts, you won't have the level of control you might feel you deserve.
Who Gets Custody When Parents Are Underage?
As a grandparent, you don't have legal or physical custody of your grandchild unless the court says so. The court won't automatically grant you custody just because the parents are underage. Instead, the court will always look to the best interest of the child. The court will try to keep the child with the parent who is best suited to offer the child a safe and healthy home.
In some cases, grandparents can seek full custody of the child, but it's difficult. Grandparents will need to demonstrate that the parents are unfit to provide the child with a safe and healthy environment. For example, the court will need to see one or more of the following factors:
- The parent is abusing drugs
- The parent is engaging in criminal behavior
- The parent is unfit
This process is hard. No grandparent wants to have a court strip away the parental rights of their own children. Ultimately, grandparents need to do what's right for their grandchild. Doing so can help the teen get back on track and provide space and opportunity for healthy relationships down the road.
Grandparent Visitation in New Jersey
In addition to physical custody, grandparents can petition the court to order grandparent visitation arrangements for their grandchild. In the case of teen pregnancies, grandparents might find they also have to negotiate terms with the other set of grandparents. To establish visitation rights, you'll need to go before the court and discuss a lot of personal details, including:
- Your relationship with the grandchild and the parents
- Whether the grandchild is prohibited from seeing the grandparents
- The impact of a grandparent relationship on the child
- Histories of abuse or neglect
This process can be hard, but you don't have to do it alone.
Hire a NJ Custody Attorney
Grandparent custody is a difficult process that requires a sophisticated understanding of how the laws work. Your best chance at winning grandparent custody in NJ is by working with an experienced family law attorney. Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Family Law Team today by calling 888-535-3686 or filling out our form online.